Moment of the Year: #6
Baseball Clinches GSAC Title on Final Day of Regular Season
In 2010, California Baptist University won the GSAC Baseball title by seven games, clinching the championship with three games to spare.
The Lancers needed every out of every game this year.
CBU made one of its last memories of play in the GSAC a joyous one as the Lancers celebrated a second-straight conference title with a dog-pile in the middle of baseball diamond at Carroll B. Land Stadium, defeating Point Loma Nazarene, 2-1, to clinch their second straight conference title.
The celebration was wild and rightfully so, for a number of reasons.
The scenario heading into the doubleheader was simple. Win one, and the Lancers were the champs. Lose one, and they would need help from The Master's against Biola, an unlikely scenario given the fact that Biola had the first two of the four-game series with the Mustangs by a combined score of 29-5.
Moments after the Lancers lost the opening game of the doubleheader, 6-2, they caught word that Biola had defeated The Master's in the first game of their doubleheader, 7-3, to draw even with the Lancers heading into the final game of the regular season.
In an instant, the plot and drama thickened.
"We knew that Biola had won and we had lost so we were tied, but the fact remained we still needed to win the next one," said Head Coach Gary Adcock. "We can't be the team that plays disappointed. We couldn't worry about what Biola did or was going to do, because we couldn't let the situation change the way we played. We talked all year about winning each series, and that's what we did."
PLNU got one back in the sixth on an RBI single to cut the deficit in half against Devyn Rivera, who was spectacular in going the distance, scattering six singles and striking out two.
He saved his best for last.
With the Lancers clinging to a 2-1 lead and needing just three outs for the title, the Sea Lions put together one final rally against Rivera, and nearly stole it.
Clinton Harwick led off with a single through the right side
and was sacrifice to second. Rivera then issued back-to-back walks to Jack
Diamond and Allen Boyer, barely missing on a couple of pitches. Tyler Kuehl,
who had singled in the first, crushed a 1-1 pitch down the left field line that
appeared to be the game-winner.
Six inches to the right and it would have been. It landed foul.
After working the count to 2-2, Rivera got Kuehl to ground into a routine 6-4-3 double play, the game's only double play, and for the second year in a row the Lancers erupted into a wild celebration in the middle of the infield at Carrol B. Land Stadium against the same team that abruptly ended the Lancers' World Series title hopes a season earlier.
"It felt great being on the bottom of that pile," said Rivera.
Then, an hour later, the Lancers learned the Master's stunningly beat Biola, 3-2, in eight innings, and the Lancers were GSAC Champions, alone at the top, for the second straight year.
It was a moment of pure joy but also relief, which was strange since the Lancers rebounded from a rough midseason stretch to finish the regular-season winning 15 of their final 18 games. Still, unlike 2010, the Lancers literally had to play all the way to the final out of the regular season to get it.
This one was a grind, and if not for a six-inch gap to the left of the left field foul line, it almost went up in smoke.
"This one doesn't mean more (than last year's), but it was definitely more difficult," said Adcock. "There was an 11-game league span where we went 4-7. We weren't playing well, our reigning GSAC Pitcher of the Year went down and we had some other things going on. We worked for this one, and it makes it satisfying."
The Lancers went on and hosted the GSAC Tournament and the NAIA National Championship Opening Round for the second consecutive year, getting within one game of the NAIA World Series. Sharp was named NAIA All-American and a program-record four players were drafted in the MLB Draft after the season.
In all, they won 43 games this year, but none of them will be as memorable as Moment #6.
Moments of the Year: #7 - Men's Volleyball Wins Eighth National Title
Moments of the Year: #8 - Softball Beats Okla. City/CS San Marcos at NAIA Tournament
Moments of the Year: #9 - Men's Soccer Defeats NCAA DI Sacramento State
Moments of the Year: #10 - Stieger Nets 400; Holden, Gorham Break Records
Moments of the Year: Honorable Mention